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RECIPE: Chocolate Pecan Pie

August 20th is National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day (July 12th is Pecan Pie Day).

Our question: Why eat heavy pecan pie during the summer—not to mention add rich chocolate to it—when there are so many seasonal, ephemeral berries and stone fruits to turn into pies?

Our tip: Keep this recipe from Melissa Clark of The New York Times for the fall, when a hearty, dense pie is just the thing to stick to the ribs.

Don’t be tempted to substitute milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips. Pecan pie is sweet enough.

The bittersweet chocolate specified here is just the thing: intense chocolate flavor without a lot of added sugar.

Two tablespoons of bourbon add just a hint of flavor. Try it; and if you want to add more next time—or some praline liqueur—go for it.

Ms. Clark’s pie has a conventional pie crust. You can also use a chocolate wafer crumb crust.

Pecan pie is traditionally garnished with whipped cream. Given the sweetness of the pie, a dollop of of unsweetened whipped cream, crème fraîche or sour cream is just right.

Don’t like to bake? The easy way out is this excellent chocolate pecan pie filling from San Saba Pecan, spooned into a store-bought crust.
 
 
RECIPE: MELISSA CLARK’S CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE (Photo #1)

For The Crust

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour (150 grams), plus more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (preferably high-fat European style), chilled and cubed
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water, as needed
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 1½ cups pecan halves (170 grams)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (56 grams)
  • ¾ cup dark corn syrup
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar (100 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (5 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the crust: In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms chickpea-size pieces. Add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough just comes together. It should be moist but not wet.

    2. GATHER the dough into a ball on a lightly floured surface, and flatten it into a disk with the heel of your hand. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days.

    3. REMOVE the plastic wrap and roll out the dough to a 12-inch circle, on a lightly floured surface. Transfer the crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then the crimp edges. Prick the crust all over with a fork. Chill the crust for 30 minutes. While the dough chills…

       

    Chocolate Pecan Pie
    [1] Celebrate National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day with this yummy recipe (photo Andrew Scrivani | The New York Times).

    Pecans In Shell
    [2] The Spanish explorers who encountered pecans called them “wrinkle nuts” (photo courtesy Home Depot).

    Pecan Tree

    [3] A pecan tree. If you live in warmer zones (6 through 9), you can grow your own (photo courtesy Perfect Plants Nursery). You can also grow the trees in zone 5, but they won’t bear nuts.

     
    4. HEAT the oven to 375°F. Line the chilled crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 25 minutes; then remove the foil and bake until it’s a very pale golden color, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

    5. REDUCE the oven temperature to 350°F. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Cool.

    6. MAKE the filling: In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth. Cool.

    7. WHISK together in a large bowl the cooled chocolate-butter mixture, corn syrup, eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, bourbon and salt. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Arrange pecans over the filling.

    8. TRANSFER to a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until the filling is just set when the pan is jiggled, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

     

    Chocolate Pecan Pie
    [4] Another way to make chocolate pecan pie: Drizzle chocolate on top, as in this recipe from Julia’s Treats And Eats.

    Pecan Pie

    [5] Hold the chocolate if you want a standard pecan pie (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    PECAN PIE HISTORY

    It seems difficult to believe give the long history of pecan trees in the Colonial South*; but the pecan pie recipe we know, pecans on a brown sugar base, is a 20th century invention. No recipes have been found dating to earlier than 1925.

    According to FoodTimeline.com, The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and The Joy of Cooking did not include pecan pie recipes before 1940.

    While some sources claim that early French settlers in New Orleans invented pecan pie after encountering the nuts (which they called pacane, after the Native American paka·n), food historians have not been able to trace the dish’s origin prior to 1925.

    That doesn’t mean pecan pie didn’t exist, only that there is no record to prove it. Popular national cookbooks such as The Joy of Cooking and The Fannie Farmer Cookbook did not include the recipe prior to 1940.

    Yes, there were pies made with pecans; they just weren’t pecan pies as we know them or called “pecan pie.” References dating to 1886 and 1914 added the nuts to a milk-based custard.

    Then came a breakthrough on the road to modern pecan pie. In 1913, Mrs. Vesta Harrison of Fort Worth, then an unmarried teenager taking a cooking course, won a national competition with her Texas Pecan Pie, made with a filling of sorghum.

    She said the recipe for this pecan pie came to her in a dream. When she told the teacher at her cooking school, a Mrs. Chitwood of Chicago, that she was going to make a pecan pie, the teacher exclaimed “There is no such thing!”

    The future Mrs. Harrison, interviewed later in life, said she responded, “By gollies, I don’t know how, but I’m going to mess up something making a pecan pie.”

    Mrs. Chitwood sent the recipe to the contest in Washington, where it won first prize. So even if there already was a syrup-based pecan pie somewhere in the U.S., it was unknown in Texas, Chicago or Washington [source].

    Following the introduction of the sorghum-based pecan pie, versions were made with molasses.

    Enter Karo Syrup & The Modern Pecan Pie

    The modern pecan pie was born with the introduction of Karo Syrup, in 1902.

    One of the earliest recipes to substitute the sorghum or molasses with Karo corn syrup was by Mrs. Frank Herring, published in the Sallislaw, Oklahoma Democrat American on February 19, 1931:

     
    3 eggs, 1 cup Karo (blue label), 4 tablespoons corn meal, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup chopped pecans or less if desired, pastry. Method: Beat whole eggs slightly, add Karo, corn meal, sugar and melted butter, then stir all thoroughly. Line pie tin with flaky pastry and fill generously with mixture. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top, bake in moderate oven until well set when slightly shaken [source].

    Printed on the bottle label, the makers of Karo Syrup popularized the recipe that many people use today. It has similar ingredients to Mrs. Herring’s recipe, minus the corn meal and adding vanilla extract. It doubles the amount of Karo syrup and sugar and triples the pecans. Here’s the recipe.

    The Karo website says that the recipe was created in the 1930s by the wife of a senior sales executive. When the pie appeared on the bottle label and in magazines, it was known as Karo Pecan Pie.

    This unnamed executive wife may well have seen, and adapted, Mrs. Herring’s 1931 recipe. The rest is sweet history; although as soon as we have time, we’re going back to make the Karo pie using the smaller amounts of sugars in the Herring recipe. When a scoop of vanilla ice cream is needed to cut the sweetness of a pie, you know it’s too sweet.

    The History Of The Pecan Tree

    The pecan, Carya illinoinensis (photo #3), is a member of the Juglandaceae family, known as the walnut family of trees. The trees are native to the Americas, Eurasia and Southeast Asia.

    The family also includes the hickory, about 16 species of which are native to the Americas.

    Pecans are native to America. The tree originated in central and eastern North America and in the river valleys of Mexico*.

    The name “pecan” is a word of Algonquin origin that describes “all nuts requiring a stone to crack.”

    Long before Europeans arrived, pecans were widely consumed and traded by Native Americans. Nuts were an excellent food product for a pre-agricultural society, easy to harvesst and store (and an excellent source of protein and other nutrients).

    The first Europeans to come into contact with pecans were 16th-century Spanish explorers in what is now Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana. They called the pecan, nuez de la arruga, which means “wrinkle nut,” due to the deep lines resembling wrinkles in the nutmeats (photo #2). The explorers brought the pecan to Europe, Asia, and Africa beginning in the 16th century.

    Thomas Jefferson planted pecan trees, Carya illinoinensis (“Illinois nuts”) in his nut orchard at Monticello, in Virginia. George Washington wrote in his journal that Jefferson gave him “Illinois nuts” to grow at Mount Vernon.
    ________________

    *Currently, the largest pecan-producing states are, in order of tonnage: Georgia, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. Pecans are grown coast to coast along the southern tier of the United States. The largest pecan orchard is Stahmann Farms in New Mexico.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Creative Icebox Cakes & Homemade Chocolate Wafers Recipes

    Icebox Cake Refrigerator Roll
    [1] The original ice box cake was made by Nabisco. Wafers and whipped cream were assembled and then frozen, to make cutting easy. After the taller cake became popular, the original version was named Refrigerator Roll (photo courtesy Nabisco).

    Original Icebox Cake
    [2] The cake evolved into the classic Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer Ice Box Cake, a tall affair that was impressive to look at, but not so neat to cut (here’s the recipe from The Very Kitchen).

    Chocolate Ice Box Cake
    [3] In recent decades, cooks got creative, substituting chocolate whipped cream, strawberry whipped cream and other fruit flavors, and adding layers of fruit on top of the wafers (photo courtesy The King’s Cupboard).

    Strawberry Ice Box Cake
    [4] In the last decade or two, fruit crept into the recipe, exemplified by this Strawberry Ice Box Cake from Cabot Co-op (recipe).

    Lemon Ice Box Cake

    [5] Home cooks got even more creative with the ingredients, as in this Lemon Blueberry Ice Box Cake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

     

    Ice Box Cake has long been popular on a hot summer day: No hot oven required.

    Instead, wafer cookies—the thin, flat kind—are layered with whipped cream and refrigerated for 4 hours or more. Moisture from the whipped cream softens the cookies, turning them into with individual refrigerator cakes.

    Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer Cookies date to the 1930s: very thin, crispy chocolate cookies that were used for icebox cakes and chocolate crumb crusts.

    The Ice Box Cake was created by Nabisco home economists and printed on the wrapper—as so many iconic American recipes were—to sell more product!

    We’re not talking general recipes: Oatmeal cookies existed long before Quaker Oats printed a recipe on its label. We’re talking inventions:

  • Chex Party Mix from Chex Cereal
  • Cream Cheese Frosting from Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
  • Green Bean Bake from Campbell’s Mushroom Soup
  • Green Bean Casserole from French’s Crispy Fried Onions
  • Key Lime Pie from Borden’s Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Magic Bars from Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
  • Marshmallow Treats from Rice Krispies*
  • Onion Dip from Lipton Onion Soup
  • Pineapple Upside Down Cake from Dole Canned Pineapple Rings
  • Toll House Cookies from Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  •  
    There are hundreds of examples, and a number of cookbooks that feature these recipes from boxes, bottles, cans and jars. They were typically developed by home economists at the manufacturing company, but others came from home cooks (German Chocolate Cake, Marshmallow Treats and Toll House Cookies are some examples).
    ________________

    *Created by Mildred Day, a Campfire Girls counselor and Kellogg’s employee, who created the recipe to help her Campfire Girls raise money.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF NABISCO FAMOUS CHOCOLATE WAFER COOKIES

    Dating to the 18th century, wafer cookies were made by home cooks and later by bake shops. By the 20th century, they were popular enough to make their way into commercial manufacture.

    The first manufactured chocolate wafers—Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers—debuted in 1924. The company sold a tin of three flavors: chocolate, ginger and sugar wafers.

    When Nabisco transitioned to cardboard packaging around 1930, the other flavors were dropped and the Famous Chocolate Wafer boxes were printed with the recipe for Icebox Cake. In the first iteration (photo #1), a log of chocolate wafers separated with whipped cream, that was then frozen.

    From that moment, Chocolate Ice Box Cake was a hit. It could be made equally well by experienced cooks as well as housewives who rarely entered the kitchen (or if they did, were not known for their culinary gifts).

    Delicious any time, it was a godsend in summer months, when, before the dawn of widespread air conditioning, no one had the desire to turn on the oven. The recipe was enlarged to a “layer cake” format (photo #2).

    Separately, the wafers were crushed and used as crusts for pies and cheesecakes, and as dessert garnishes.

    While ice box cake is an American invention, is a descendant of the charlottes and trifles that date to 17th-century Europe.

    Here’s the longer history of ice box cakes, charlottes and trifles.
     
    MODERN ICE BOX CAKE IDEAS

    With today’s ice box cakes, anything goes, with:

  • Overall cake flavors: lemon, matcha, mocha—create your favorite flavors with choices of whipped cream and fruit.
  • Fruit: Add berries or sliced stone fruits (cherries, nectarines, peaches, etc.).
  • Whipped cream flavors: Whip up some flavored whipped cream—bourbon, citrus, lavender, mint, peppermint, spice, etc.
  • Cookie types: Graham crackers have become popular; and you can bring back the ginger wafers with Anna’s Swedish Ginger Thins, lemon thins, etc.

    But do keep the cookies thin. The thinner the cookie, the more likely it is to dissolve into a soft, cakey texture. That Toll House or oatmeal cookie doesn’t work: Save them for ice cream sandwiches.

  • Garnishes: chocolate shavings or chips, cinnamon, cocoa powder, coconut, candied ginger, etc.
  •  
    You can turn the garnishes into food fun: a “decorate your own” approach. Provide bowls of:

  • Blueberries or raspberries
  • Chocolate shavings
  • Chopped nuts
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Sprinkles or confetti
  • Sugar dragées, glitter, pearls (white or Callebaut Crispearls— chocolate-covered cereal balls in dark, milk and white chocolate)
  • Other garnishes of choice (Gummi bears, anyone?)
  •  
    BAKE YOUR OWN CHOCOLATE WAFERS & MAKE INDIVIDUAL STACK ICE BOX CAKES

    These days, with all the competition on the supermarket shelf, it can be hard to find Nestle’s Famous Chocolate Wafers. Thank goodness for online shopping.

    But how about making your own? They’ll taste even better.

    Here’s a recipe from King Arthur Flour. Prep time is 30-50 minutes, bake time is 20-22 minutes.

    Whether you bake them or buy them, you can make individual refrigerator cakes by making single stack of wafers and cream instead of a larger cake. You need to refrigerate them at least 4 hours before serving, or overnight.

    This recipe makes 3½ dozen, 2½-inch cookies.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE WAFERS FOR ICE BOX CAKE

    Ingredients For 8 Individual Stack Cakes Or 1 Large Cake

    For The Wafers

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup black cocoa†
  • 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy/whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • ________________
    †Black cocoa is a super-dark Dutch-process cocoa from King Arthur Flour. It is used sparingly for an intense, dark color and unsweetened-chocolate highlights. This rich cocoa will make the darkest chocolate cake or cookies, but you can use the cocoa you have.

     

    Preparation

    1. GREASE lightly (or line with parchment) two baking sheets, or more if you have them; you’ll make 3 to 4 baking sheets’ worth of cookies.

    2. BEAT together in a medium-sized bowl the sugar, butter, salt, baking powder and espresso powder. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then the flour and cocoa. Cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F.

    3. ROLL the dough about 1/8″ thick. Use cocoa instead of flour to dust your rolling board and the dough. Cut into 2 ½”-round cookies. A biscuit cutter is handy for this.

    4. BAKE the cookies for 10 minutes. Watch them closely at the end of the baking time, and if you start to smell chocolate before 10 minutes has gone by, take them out. When they’re done, remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool completely.

    5. MAKE the filling: Whisk together the heavy cream and other ingredients. When blended, whip until the cream holds a soft peak.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Place one cookie on a small plate. Put about a tablespoon of whipped cream on top; our teaspoon cookie scoop, heaped up, works well here.
    Top with a second cookie, using it to compress the whipped cream to about a ¼”-thick layer. Repeat with 4 more cookies, finishing with a layer of whipped cream. Refrigerate from 4 to 24 hours before serving.

    Flavored Whipped Cream Variations

    To flavor 1 cup of cream, add one of the following combinations 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar + 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. To play around with other flavors, use these guidelines:

  • Coconut: 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar + 1/8 teaspoon coconut flavor
  • Mocha: 1 tablespoon granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon Dutch processed cocoa + 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • Peppermint: 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar + 1/8 teaspoon peppermint oil
  •  
    These are just some of the many variations that will delight you, your friends and family.

    Put on your toque and your apron and get out your artist’s palette.

     

    Nestle Famous Chocolate Wafers
    [6] Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers (photo courtesy Nabisco).

    Homemade Chocolate Wafers
    [7] An individual-portion ice box cake. Just stack the wafers and whipped cream vertically (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

    Individual Ice Box Cakes

    [8] Another mini ice box cake—with a cherry on top! Here’s the recipe from If You Give A Blonde A Kitchen.

     

      

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    RECIPE: A Classic & Variations For National Lemon Meringue Pie Day

    August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day, celebrating one of America’s favorite pies.

    That are the top 10 pies in America, based on consumption? No one has done that survey.

    Mrs. Smith’s released a survey of their top 10 based on sales, but it only included frozen pies in the flavors made by Mrs. Smith.

    One thing we do know: Look at every list of the top pies in the country and you’ll find these nine (in alphabetical order):

    1. Apple Pie
    2. Banana Cream Pie
    3. Blueberry Pie
    4. CherryPie
    5. Coconut Cream Pie
    6. Key Lime Pie
    7. Lemon Meringue Pie
    8. Pecan Pie
    9. Pumpkin Pie
     
    What’s the 10th favorite? Depending on how the list was compiled, here are some from Top Ten Pies:

  • Chocolate Mousse/Silk Pie
  • Oreo Pie
  • Peach Pie
  • Peanut Butter/Snickers
  • Raspberry Pie
  • Strawberry Pie
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
  • Sweet Potato Pie
  •  
    Some flavors are seasonal (including berry and stone fruit pies). Peppermint pies come out during the holiday season.

    Some of our favorites, such as Black Bottom Pie, Grasshopper Pie and Tarte Tatin (a French upside-down pie with caramelized apples) aren’t even on the Top 20 list of sweet pies.
     
    TRIVIA: Banana Cream Pie is a layer cake, and cheesecake is a custard pie. Check out the different types of pie.

    THE HISTORY OF LEMON MERINGUE PIE

    Lemon-flavored custards, puddings and pies date to Middle Ages, which concluded in the 15th Century. But meringue was not perfected until the 17th century.

    The modern lemon meringue pie is a 19th-century recipe, attributed to Alexander Frehse, a Swiss baker from Romandy, the French-speaking part(s) of Switzerland.

    It combines a lemon custard single crust pie with meringue, the fluffy topping made from egg whites and sugar, baked on top. Here’s the classic lemon meringue pie recipe.

    August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day, celebrating one of America’s favorite pies.

    THE HISTORY OF LEMON MERINGUE PIE

    Lemon-flavored custards, puddings and pies date to Middle Ages, which concluded in the 15th century, bowing to the Renaissance. But meringue was not perfected until the 17th century.

    The modern lemon meringue pie is a 19th-century recipe, attributed to Alexander Frehse, a Swiss baker from Romandy, the French-speaking part(s) of Switzerland.

    It combines a lemon custard single crust pie with meringue, the fluffy topping made from egg whites and sugar, baked on top. Here’s the classic lemon meringue pie recipe from McCormick

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    RECIPE: LEMON MERINGUE PIE

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 basic 9-inch pie crust*, baked and cooled
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 5 egg yolks, well beaten (save the whites for the meringue)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  •    

    Lemon Meringue Pie
    [1] One of America’s favorite pies. The classic recipe below is from the American Egg Board, IncredibleEgg.org.

    Lemon Meringue Pie
    [2] Browning in the oven can create an even color, which professional bakers often prefer for its perfect, even look (photo courtesy McCormick).

    Lemon Meringue Pie
    [3] You can brown the meringue as much or as little as you like (photo courtesy My Most Favorite Food).

    Lemon Meringue Pie

    [4] This meringue, from Centerville Pie Company, goes for a shade of mocha.

     

    For The Meringue

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    Optional Garnishes

  • Lemon peel curls/twists
  • Fresh mint, whole leaves or julienne
  • ________________

    *Take a look at this Egg & Lemon Juice Pie Crust from IncredibleEgg.org.

     

    Meyer Lemons
    [5] Mini-tip: Before you juice lemons for a recipe, zest them and save the zest in the freezer. Use it to perk up everyday foods like salad dressings, juices, soft drinks, hot and cold tea (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    Pete And Gerry's Organic Eggs

    [6] Do organic eggs taste better? Frankly, yes; although freshness also enters the equation (photo courtesy BJs).

     

    Preparation.

    1. PLACE the oven rack in the top third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 325°F. Prepare the filling: Mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt in large, heavy saucepan. Gradually stir in the water and lemon juice until smooth. Add the egg yolks; stir until blended, and add the butter.

    2. COOK over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon peel.

    3. IMMEDIATELY MAKE the meringue. Dissolve the cornstarch in cold water in one-cup glass measure. Microwave on High 30 seconds; stir. Microwave until the mixture boils, 15 to 30 seconds more. Remove and cover.

    4. BEAT the egg whites and cream of tartar in mixer bowl with the whisk attachment on high speed, until foamy. Beating constantly, add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition until the sugar is dissolved before adding the next.

    5. CONTINUE beating until the whites are glossy and stand in soft peaks. Beating constantly, add the cornstarch paste, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat in the vanilla.

    6. POUR the hot filling into the pie crust. Quickly spread the meringue evenly over filling, starting at the edge of the crust. The meringue should overlap rim of the crust. Swirl with the back of a spoon to provide waves.

    7. BAKE in the upper third of a 325°F oven until the meringue is lightly browned, 16 to 18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack 30 minutes to 1 hour; then refrigerate until serving. Garnish as desired.
     
     
    TIPS

  • Serve freshly made pie at room temperature, or refrigerate, uncovered, until ready to serve. Let the pie warm up on the counter.
  • For neat slices, dip knife into glass of water, letting excess water drip off, before each cut. This prevents the meringue from sticking to knife and tearing it. Be sure to cut completely through the crust.
  • A hot filling is important. The heat of the filling cooks the bottom of the meringue and prevents it from weeping and creating a slippery layer between filling and topping. Set up your equipment and measure meringue ingredients before you make the filling and work quickly to make meringue before filling cools.
  • To check if the sugar is dissolved, rub a bit of meringue between your thumb and forefinger. If the sugar is dissolved, it will feel completely smooth. If it feels grainy, continue beating.
  • To check for soft peaks, stop the mixer and lift the beater. The peaks left in the meringue should curl at the tips. If the peaks stand straight and tall (stiff peaks), the meringue has been overbeaten.
  • Anchor the meringue. Be sure to attach the meringue to the crust all around the edge of the pie. This prevents the meringue from pulling away from the edge during baking.
  • If beads form on the refrigerated meringue, gently blot them with the tip of paper towel.
  • Refrigerate any leftover pie promptly.
  •  
     
    VARIATIONS TO LEMON MERINGUE PIE

  • Crust: Try a chocolate cookie crust, coconut crust, graham crust, nut crust.
  • Filling: Add lemon zest, lime zest, orange zest or shredded coconut.
  • Topping: flavored whipped cream, plain or flavored, instead of whipped cream turns it into a lemon pie.
  • Garnish: If you have candied lemon peel, use it!
  •   

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Slab Pie Art

    Since the old-fashioned slab pie started trending a few years back, almost every fruit pie we’ve made has been a slab pie. Why? They’re sooooo easy!

    A slab pie is a shallow pie that’s baked in a jelly roll pan or a rimmed baking sheet. It has a much higher crust-to-filling ratio than a standard pie, so it’s definitely for the crust-loving crowd, or the hand pie-loving crowd.

    When we want a lot of fruit, we make a cobbler or crisp (the difference).

    MORE SLAB PIE BONUSES

  • Since less filling is needed, a slab pie stretches pricey fresh fruit.
  • It feeds quite a few more people than a standard 9-inch pie: almost as much as two pies, in fact.
  • Only 1 crust is needed. Although some people make a lattice or two-crust slab—which affords picking up the square and eating it like a slab pie—we roll out just one crust and make a streusel.
  • It’s easy to cut and serve.
  • It gladly accepts all the standard pie garnishes: caramel sauce, chocolate shavings, crème anglaise/custard sauce, ice cream, whipped cream, a wedge of sharp cheddar, etc.
  •  
    READY, SET, BAKE!

    You can use any fruit filling in a slab pie with this slab pie recipe template. Head for the summer fruits:

  • Berries: single-berry or mixed berry. Here’s a recipe for a raspberry slab pie; just add your berry mix of choice.
  • Stone fruits (cherry, nectarine, peach, pear, etc.).
  • Black mission and other figs are also in season, and delicious in a pie topped with vanilla ice cream. Might we suggest a tablespoon of orange liqueur (e.g. Grand Marnier) in the filling?
  •  
    You’ve got the weekend ahead of you: Pick your slab pie.

     

    Mixed Berry Slab Pie

    [1] Take a tip from Pamela’s Products: Make a super-easy slab pie and unleash your inner artist with cookie cutters and a sharp paring knife.

    [2] The typical slab pie has a plain or lattice top crust (photo courtesy Taste Of Home).

     
    Then get out your cookie cutters and a sharp paring knife, and create a flower garden top crust (photo #1) or other design.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Something For National S’mores Day

    This yummy holiday is celebrated annually on August 10th, a combination of graham crackers, toasted marshmallows and chocolate bars, a favorite campfire treat of Girl Scouts since the early 20th century.

    The popular of s’mores has had contemporary home cooks cooking up everything from s’mores ice cream, ice cream cakes, ice cream sandwiches and pies; to bark, brownies, chocolate bars, cookies and fudge; to s’mores cocktails.

    The high point must be the s’mores kits sold by artisan chocolatiers and marshmallow makers, including homemade graham crackers (so good, that the big brands are like cardboard in comparison—here’s a recipe to bake your own).

    The low point may be Kellogg’s Smorz and Post’s Honey Maid S’mores Cereal, which cons parents into allowing their kids to breakfast on chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker bits.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF S’MORES

    We don’t know who invented S’mores, but the Girl Scouts certainly popularized them. The first published recipe is in their 1927 handbook.

    S’mores around the campfire has been a happy tradition: a stick, a fire, two toasted marshmallows, a square of chocolate and two graham crackers get you a delicious chocolate marshmallow sandwich.

    The combined flavors of toasted marshmallow, melty chocolate and crunchy grahams is oh-so-much tastier than the individual ingredients (or, to quote Aristotle, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts).

    It is very possible that a Girl Scout or troop leader, sitting around the campfire toasting marshmallows, pulled out graham crackers and chocolate, brought along for snacking, and made the first sandwich.

    The name of the sandwich cookie comes from its addictive quality: You have no choice but to ask for “some more.”

    But you don’t need a campfire, or even all of the classic ingredients, to celebrate with S’mores, as you’ll see below (skillet s’mores are so easy, you won’t miss the fire).

    Don’t have a heat source to melt marshmallows? Use Fluff or other marshmallow cream.

    It may be too late to throw a s’mores party on National S’mores Day, but it will be equally welcome on Labor Day or any other day of the year.

  • Here’s the s’mores party we threw last year. It’s a feast of substitutions, the opportunity for everyone to create signature s’mores recipe (add some banana slices, use chocolate-covered grahams, peanut butter cup instead of chocolate bar, etc.).
  • Here’s a template for a s’mores party, from our 2013 party.
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    MORE S’MORES RECIPES

    Here are some s’mores recipes with twists that we’ve published, just a smattering of the thousands of s’mores recipes out there.

    Of course, the classic graham cracker sandwich with toasted marshmallows and a piece of chocolate is perfect as is.

  • S’mores Baked Alaska
  • Cinnamon S’mores and a cappuccino cocktail
  • Creative S’mores Recipes
  • Fancy S’mores (banana split, peach, peanut brittle etc.)
  • Grilled Banana S’mores
  • Gourmet Marshmallow S’mores
  • Ice Cream S’mores
  • Skillet S’mores (S’mores Fondue)
  • S’mores With Other Types Of Cookies
  • S’mores Ice Cream Cake, Ice Cream Pie and Cupcakes
  • S’mores In A Cup Or Mason Jar
  • S’mores Cookie Bars
  • S’mores Ice Cream Cake
  • S’mores On A Stick
  • S’mores On The Grill
  • Triscuit S’mores
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    For tomorrow, the actual National S’mores Day, expect more recipes!

     

    Smores Ingredients
    [1] Ingredients for classic s’mores from Dandies, delicious vegan marshmallows.

    Smores In A Jar
    [2] Smores without the mess from Chef Eric Levine.

    Brownie Smores

    [3] A pastry chef’s s’mores: homemade brownie with graham chunks and homemade marshmallows, browned with a torch (photo courtesy Distilled NY.

     

      

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